Today, I'm thinking about modernity and fragmentation, transformation and shapeshifting. I was sitting on the roof of my building a couple of mornings ago looking at the world around me. In front I could see the expansive ocean. I saw some white capped peaks as the waves crashed in on itself. I saw a boat on the water, trailing a small darkish cloud. To my right there was the tree line of Golden Gate Park. I could see the tops of the their leafy heads. I heard the cry of an eagle and lots of crows, the squeaky kiss-cry of a hummingbird, and other feathered beings that I can't identify. Periodically, there was also the electric hum of Muni and the sound of cars floating through my awareness.
I was laying face down breathing it all in and giving thanks for all the natural beauty around me and, all of a sudden, I became aware of the small rocks that were under me. These small shards that were at one point run through a stone grinder to be used for construction wanted thanks too. This shocked me a bit! But, I realized that these stones are holding the pain of modernity and fragmentation for us. In a lot of "new age" spiritual circles crystals and stones are immensely popular. Especially if these are beautiful, sparkly, and have a purpose in healing. I will admit to absolutely loving crystals and pretty stones and collecting these since I was a small child but there's also something to be said for all the "normal" stone that is around us. The gravel in our driveways, concrete buildings, decorative pebbles in vases in hotel lobbies- stones are literally everywhere!
These stones hold the earths history and their stories as well. We walk on stone and live in stone structures and don't take time to give thanks to them and, maybe, even to listen to their tale of changing form. They speak to us of fragmentation, loss of identity, and displacement just like humans do in today's world across cultures. Even the stones are displaced beings, mined from one location and then transported to another. Does identity loss occur for the stone people? Do they long for their ancestral homeland too? I think they must, but they are also holding a larger memory and story inside, the story of the earth and the cosmos, the story of their interactions with humans. The pain of fragmentation and dislocation that they have undergone mirrors our own in a way. Maybe they are showing humans what is happening to their flesh and bone. Perhaps they want to awaken our bones, remind us that we hold creation, change, and destruction within. I think they are reminding us of our original separation from the realms of the ancestors and spirit. I also feel they are reminding us of our place in the cosmos and why we are here, regardless of the numerous dislocations and fragmentations that we may have gone through.
Stones found in our cities and in civilized places can also teach us about transformation and shapeshifting. This idea may seem a little counter intuitive since stones are strong and seemingly unchanging, they are long-standing structures. But they also go through transformations and have the capacity to become something else, like the marble floors in your house or the stone statues standing watch throughout the city. These stones were at point part of the natural landscape and still are but in a different way, they have been taken out of the wild and introduced into "civilization". They have shape-shifted (mostly because of humans) and speak to us of the many stories that are coming together in our cities. Stories that are being forgotten, broken, shaped by others, rewritten, and co-opted. Stories that are being shared and expressed nonetheless. Some of these stories speak of love and joy. All of these stories are full of life and memory. Let's not forget our stories (and secret her/histories) of shapeshifting amidst the chaos of modern life.